Are you a hoarder? Wow that question hit home for me. I was watching hoarding: buried alive on netflix and I looked at some of those people and asked out loud "why can't you just throw your crap out?" And I looked around and discovered- I don't always through out my stuff.
The reason we cling to things is complex. We find emotional value in it. Some of us were even raised/partially raised by people who have survived the great depression. Heck, my grandmother was born in the middle of it, (mom's mom) and my other grandmother was born in 1915 so she DEFINITELY survived the depression. My grandfather was born in 1914 and when he died, you could see the hoard he had. his entire detached garage was stuffed full of things that he placed emotional value into but meant nothing to the rest of us. It took weeks to clear out the junk from his stash.
I wasn't raised in the cleanest house either. I mean it wasn't a landfill, but there was usually quite a bit of clutter. After seeing my grandfather's stash and how my house was, I figured everyone lived like that. Boy howdy was I wrong. You can't breathe in clutter. And after a while, I'm convinced it breeds on it's own (much like dust bunnies!).
The magic pill:
Sorry, there is none. There is an old-fashioned remedy though. I want you to completely ignore the saying "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" for a minute. There will be a time and place for it in a minute. The old-fashioned remedy is sweat. Much like sweat rids toxins from your body, you need to sweat out the stuff you don't need. We LOVE getting organizing things and thinking "finally, this is waht I need to organize the stuff I have, etc." Listen to me very carefully- there is NO WAY on God's green earth that the things you have will all be organized. Why? Because clutter and junk has no place. That combination flashlight, swiss army knife, perm rod, curtain hanger and pocket iron has zero room in your home even though it "multi-tasks" because there's no where to put it! Get rid of it.
I'm all for yardsales... when it's yard sale season. At the time I'm writing this, it's December 9th, 2011. Needless to say, it's not the season for yardsales. Who in their right mind is going to get up at 6 in the morning to hop into a car to schlep themselves to your home to look through your used junk... in the cold?! In spring, early summer and early fall is the time for yardsale. Here's the catch though: DO NOT SAVE YOUR CRAP FOR THE NEXT SEASON!
Yes, you can potentially make money on yard sales. Do you always? Nope. I had a yardsale when I was moving from Illinois to Virginia. I made $65. I had it open for two days, heaved all of my crap out onto the lawn several times. It was the worst weekend I'd ever experienced, particularly for two days worth of work (6-4 both days!), I brought in 3.25 an hour. I bawled like a baby when I realized that. Not to mention some of the things I sold were so under-priced it was ridiculous. Surprisingly it wasn't like the shows that put all of your stuff on sale and make thousands of dollars. shocker, I know. Now I'm all for shopping at yardsales- WHEN you need the items you're purchasing. For example, I'm due with twins in May. I will be yard sale shopping for baby clothes (and jeans for my son who is super hard on clothes!) in the spring. I will not be shopping for that end table that is absolutely fabulous and while there's no particular need for it right this second, I'm sure I"ll find a place for it somewhere... no. NO! NO! NO!!! Ma'am, step away from the bargain bin.
If you have a hard time letting go of things ask yourself, "is this item still in usable condition, AND if it is, would someone actually purchase it?" be honest with yourself. If you don't want to throw it away and it meets the criteria of actually being loved by someone else, why not donate it to your local church, thrift store, goodwill, etc? I'll add a list of ideas for places you can deliver to at the end (if my preggo brain remembers!).
But Ruby, what do I do if I just CAN'T let the item go? Well this is where you have a cross-roads type of decision. Is the baby blanket you've held onto for the past 40 years because your child whom you brought home from the hospital in it has not only moved out, but had a family of their own and didn't want the blanket so you got stuck with it really that sentimental? Yes, you have memories, but is the person not more important to build memories with? If you don't think you'll have memories, may I suggest scrapbooking? Take a picture and put it on a page with a note "I brought Skippy home in this blanket from the hospital".
Sentimental value is worthless to everyone else. Will it be worth it to your children and grandchildren to have to clean out years of things you felt were important? If they don't value your things as you do, how can you be sure they will after your death and they have to clear out your "valuables"?
True collections are something else. My ex husband collected comic books. Surprisingly, they're not as collectible as people make them out to be. He HOARDED this for years, wouldn't read them but refused to get rid of them. It drove me nuts. If you truly have a collection you think is worth something, why not get it appraised by an auction house? If you don't like what they have to say, you can always go to another auction house or meet with another appraiser. If anything, try to find the Antique Roadshow... you never know when they'll be in your area.
With that said, I just cleaned my living room for 2 hours with my two oldest children. There are tons of things that I'm willing to get rid of that kids find some sort of value in. I don't recommend throwing things out behind their backs most of the time, but I DO recommend you get them involved. If they feel part of the process they will be more apt to throw things out. Here's the rub though: if you're not willing to chuck anything, why should they be? Don't get mad at their clutter when yours is there. In Biblical terms, don't point out the speck in someone else's eye when you've got a plank in yours, honey! Now, that 2 hour marathon cleaning- unfortunately my living room still isn't clean. I am pregnant and constantly tired, so I wasn't moving as fast as I could have and I definitely wasn't on my "A" game. I am not finished, but I am closer to my goal. It's my hope that I can put my christmas tree up this evening. If I get it, great, if not, I'll finish cleaning the living room tomorrow and the family and I will get it up then. Will my day be ruined if I don't get my tree up tonight? Nope; if anything I'll be able to breathe a little easier in a more clutter-free environment.
It's my goal to throw out/ give away/donate most of the things I haven't used in over a year. Why keep it? my extra waffle iron isn't going to give me the warm fuzzies, but it does take up space and make me feel bad because I don't provide my family with warm homemade breakfasts regularly. I am still a good mom even if htey eat a granola bar! Out it goes because of this.
So, are you a hoarder? I think that I have the tendencies for it and I want better for my children so I'm working toward getting rid of junk. I have decided that people are more important than things. Things can be replaced so in the hopes to live a more simple life, I'm downsizing my possessions.
I'll be posting a 4 part post on the statement "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" in a little while. Watch for it. :)
Places you can donate:
nursing homes (blankets, scarves, etc)
women's shelters (GREAT for unused, unopened beauty products)
red cross (usually willing to take clothes, blankets, extra backpacks, etc)
The best part: when you bless others, blessings will come back to you! I'm a SUPER firm believer in the fact that you CAN NOT out-give God. The more I bless others, the more He blesses me- I'm going to be giving away and throwing out what can't be given. It's time I gave to others more.
Am I a hoarder? If I ever was, the answer is no longer.